Members of the Clark County Quorum Court have been asked to address the problem of flooding near Third Street. The problem has apparently been caused by beavers.

 



Members of the Clark County Quorum Court have been asked to address the problem of flooding near Third Street. The problem has apparently been caused by beavers.



James “Doug” Nelson spoke to justices during their March meeting about the drainage issues near his property. He asked that the court vote to repair the road and whatever was causing the drainage problem. It was noted that beavers have dammed up an area on the creek that runs through a Third Street culvert, causing drainage problems when heavy rains fall. The street is often under water during flash floods.



The problem was, justices said, that the beavers had dammed an area on private property — and the county road crews cannot legally operate on private roads and land.



So Justice Tom Calhoon told Nelson that he would talk to the Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Hope about the situation.



Since the, the agency surveyed the two 48-inch culverts under Third Street that was apparently responsible for the upstream flooding, and found that “both pipes looked good on the top, but were rusted out on the bottom side.” The water surface upstream from the street stood 1 foot below the tops of the culverts. Beavers had also dammed the culvert pipes themselves, and only half of the pipes were used for flow, according to the survey.



The NRCS representatives also studied where the creek drained into the Ouachita River and found another beaver dam, which is holding about 5 feet of water, near Arkadelphia’s sewage treatment plant.



The recommendation from NRCS was to replace the 48-inch culverts and to destroy the beaver dam at the creek’s outlet. “This may reveal more blockage than we were able to see since the water was so high, but the pipes should have no standing water in them when installed at the same elevation,” wrote Patrick Henry, NRCS project engineer. “This will allow the pipes to carry the full amount of flow and should relieve a lot of the upstream flooding.”



Calhoon noted that the City of Arkadelphia has agreed to get rid of the beaver dam near the sewer treatment plant; but Nelson apparently wants a larger culvert underneath the street. “The pipes are not big enough” to remain unblocked, he argued after it was said that the “beavers will be back” after the dam is destroyed.



Nelson told justices he would rather have a “boiler,” a culvert that ranges in sizes from 6-8 feet in diameter. Nelson said the county road department has the equipment necessary to put a boiler beneath the street, but that “it’s just sitting there” at the road department.



Nelson also questioned the order in which the procedure would take place. He suggested first that the culvert be replaced, and then the dam be taken care of. Calhoon said the NRCS representatives suggested destroying the dam before replacing the culvert.



Daniell said he had discussed with Nelson the procedure in which the culverts would be replaced. “I’ve told you a jillion times,” Daniell said.



Daniell argued that installing the boilers on that portion of the road would require crews to build up the road to make it high enough for the larger pipes. He said that nearly a quarter mile of highway would have to be under construction to place boilers at the creek’s crossing.



He also noted that construction on that part of the road might damage utility and right-of-way lines near the creek.



Daniell said road crews will replace the two 48-inch culverts with three culverts of the same size, adding that the work would be done as soon as the ground is dry enough to do the project.



Calhoon reported that city officials are working on getting rid of the beaver dam. He could not provide a time frame as to when the project could be complete. “They’re working on it with regards to hiring someone to catch the beavers then tearing down the dam,” he said.



How large of a problem are beavers?



“Left unchecked, they can cause a lot of problems,” said Brady Baker, wildlife biologist for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission office in Camden. “In this area, beaver problems are typically related to their restricting water flow and that water backing up into timberlands and killing trees.” Because of this, he said, the timber market has “declined greatly” the past few years. Another factor that contributes to the overpopulation of beavers is the declining number of fur trappers.



The NRCS offers “bounties” on beaver pelts. Depending on the area, a local NRCS office pays about $10 for each pelt delivered. The AGFC issues licenses and permits for trapping beavers, and sometimes issues permits for shooting beavers at night.



Asked if he foresees beaver problems growing worse, Baker said, “I don’t see it getting a lot worse than what it is right now. There are so few people trapping right now, the number of trappers probably won’t decline.”



Beavers, since they are native to Arkansas, are not an invasive species. “They are an important part of the local ecosystem,” Baker said. “But they can eventually pose a problem if populations grow to a certain level. The best way to keep the population in check is a consistent trapping regime and monitoring your property.”